From the first moment I started playing RiME, I felt completely pulled into its world. The cell-shaded environments and swelling orchestral soundtrack filled me with a sense of wonder and adventure that stuck with me throughout my playthrough. With RiME, Tequila Works has put its world and narrative at the center of the player’s experience, and created something special.
RiME weaves a narrative that makes heavy use of environmental storytelling, which is common in the indie game scene. A boy wakes up shipwrecked and marooned on an island and sees a mysterious man in a red cape, always just barely out of reach. A fox guides the boy ever-closer to this mysterious person, and serves as a companion on the boy’s journey. Who this man is and what relation he has to the protagonist evolves throughout the course of the game, concluding in a deeply emotional way. Though for most of RiME the story looms in the background, it emerges in a major way the closer you get to the game’s ending, and the payoff is well worth the short duration that the game makes you wait.
RiME’s gameplay revolves around solving puzzles and navigating simple jumping/climbing obstacles. You can climb, jump, push/pull objects, and interact with things using your voice, which is RiME’s most unique feature. Your voice is context-sensitive, so when used near an interactable object the boy will shout to activate it, but when using it on one of his companions he might just giggle or hum. All of the typical elements of puzzle games are here, including pushing boxes, reflecting light onto walls, turning switches off and on, and getting an ally to stand on a pressure plate for you. RiME doesn’t do anything that I haven’t seen in a puzzle game before, but it does every part of it well. While I never found myself even slightly challenged by the game’s puzzles, most are enjoyable to solve and short enough to avoid becoming repetitive or tedious.
RiME has plenty of hidden collectibles tucked away in optional areas to explore, but seeking out these collectibles isn’t particularly satisfying, and the short puzzles involved in reaching these areas aren’t inspired. I meticulously collected things early on in the game, but found myself focusing on the far more rewarding story instead as things progressed.
RiME’s most appealing element lies in its presentation. The game is simply gorgeous, with breathtaking vistas, heartwarming characters, and a beautiful soundtrack from start to finish. Each area has a style and mood that gives it a distinct character, and the creatures you meet along the way become endearing, including those trying to kill you. Musical cues occurring after solving a puzzle became one of the primary motivators for me to progress through the game. The stringed instruments and tunes of a piano are therapeutic, and easily the best part of RiME.
Although RiME’s presentation is impressive, it’s held back somewhat by technical limitations, including consistent drops in frame rate and uncommon, but long load times. While the load times are nowhere near game-breaking and few and far between, the framerate issues are common enough to impact one’s enjoyment, especially since RiME relies heavily on the beauty of its world.